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PM News Brief: Utah Leads Together 4.0, Lake Powell Pipeline & New Mental Health App

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert unveiled the state's fourth version of its economic recovery plan Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, June 17, 2020

STATE

$850 Million Slashed From Utah’s Budget

The Utah Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee approved $850 million in total budget cuts Wednesday for the next fiscal year. The cuts come as tax revenues have plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Almost all new funding approved during this year’s legislative session has been removed. Other cuts include some capital improvement projects and 2.5% of state money that goes to colleges and universities. Lawmakers were able to move funds around and increase the public education budget by 1.3%. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

UTA Working To Keep Riders Safe

Utah Transit Authority officials told a state legislative committee Wednesday it has increased cleanings and implemented social distancing between operators and passengers, in an effort to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic. But UTA Board Chair Carlton Christensen said they’re only encouraging passengers to wear masks because that’s what the governor’s recovery plan recommends. Although UTA’s service spans multiple counties, the transit agency is using the most stringent recommendations in its service area to guide its response, which is the orange, moderate risk phase. — Emily Means

Utah Leads Together 4.0 Unveiled

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert unveiled the state’s fourth version of its economic recovery plan Wednesday. The new plan calls for initially focusing on helping furloughed workers return to their jobs and connecting unemployed Utahns with new ones. It also lays out priorities for the state for the next 100, 250 and 500 days. Most of the state remains in the yellow, low risk phase for the spread of COVID-19. And despite a recent spike in cases, some areas have asked to be moved to the green, new normal phase. — Ross Terrell

We Have Not Flattened The COVID Curve

Utah’s COVID numbers continue to climb as 407 new cases were announced Wednesday by the state’s department of health. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn urged people to take the recent spike seriously and said the risk for catching the virus in Utah hasn’t been higher. Dunn said people should, at the very least, continue to wear a mask and that the state has not flattened the curve. Health officials announced four new deaths Wednesday and so far, nearly 278,000 people here have been tested for the disease. — Ross Terrell

Utah DSAMH Launches Mental Health App

Utahns will now have more access to mental health services. The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health is expanding access to a new online platform. MyStrength will be available to all state residents for free. It offers resources for behavioral health issues like stress, anxiety, sleep problems and chronic pain. The tool is customizable and also has COVID-19 specific materials for dealing with stress and anxiety during a pandemic. — Caroline Ballard

SOUTHERN UTAH

Group Wants Unredacted Info On Lake Powell Pipeline

A group of nonprofits and businesses is asking for pages they say were redacted from a Lake Powell Pipeline environmental impact statement. The proposed pipeline would pump water from Lake Powell to Washington County. The coalition submitted a GRAMA request Tuesday to the Utah Division of Water Resources asking for the pages and for a 2015 cost study of the project. It says an earlier cost analysis came out to around $2.4 billion, about a billion dollars more than the pipeline’s most recent filing, which was released June 8. Representatives for the pipeline say nothing was redacted and that the potential costs of the project are clearly spelled out, but they could fluctuate if financing costs were included. — Caroline Ballard

NORTHERN UTAH

Explosion Under Candidate’s Car Was… Due To His Car

Police say an explosion under the car of a candidate for the Utah House of Representatives was caused by a vehicular malfunction and not an explosive device. Democrat Robert Burch told police a small explosion happened as the car was backed out of his family's driveway in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley City earlier this month. Burch told authorities he may have been targeted because of his run for a seat in Utah House District 30. Police said Tuesday the explosion was the result of a catastrophic failure of the car's air conditioning system. — Associated Press

REGION/NATION

Unions Ask For Miner Protection

Two mining unions are now demanding emergency protections related to COVID-19 for their members. The unions are asking a federal court to compel the Mine Safety and Health Administration to issue those guidelines. The Department of Labor said it’s committed to protecting American workers during the pandemic and that it’s confident it will prevail against “this counterproductive lawsuit.”— Cooper McKim, Mountain West News Bureau

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